Saint Vincent tops La Roche in overtime thriller, 81-76

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LATROBE, Pa (Dec. 19) – All five Saint Vincent starters scored in double figures as the Saint Vincent women's basketball team topped visiting La Roche 81-76 in overtime at the Carey Center.

The win was the second straight for the Bearcats, while snapping the Redhawks' five-game win streak in the process.

It was evenly matched first half as both teams shot the ball well early on. Some strong defensive play led to the opening points from Maria Morgan, as the sophomore opened the game with the best first basket off of a backdoor cut. A few more assisted baskets from the Bearcats resulted in an early 6-0 lead with 6:35 left in the quarter.

After an early timeout, the Redhawks regroup and found their rhythm on offensive while knocking down a few shots, trimming the Bearcats' lead to 12-7 at the 3:53 mark.

Jasmine Weems knocked down a deep shot from the wing and was followed by a hard basket from Babette Sanmartin to give the Bearcats their biggest lead of the game, at 17-7. However, the Redhawks responded right back, using a 10 point run, which was capped off with a long three to beat the clock and tie the game at 19-19 after 10 minutes.

The second quarter was back-and-forth and featured several lead changes. The Redhawks were able to hold their first lead of the game after a seven straight points gave them a 26-23 edge with less than seven minutes to play in opening half.

Outside shots from Hannah Carroll and Susie Ellis helped the Bearcats recapture the lead, making it 29-26 before the Redhawks answered right back with a few baskets of their own. The visitors would regain the lead at 32-31 thanks to a six-point run, which would have closed out the first half scoring if it were not for a Bearcat buzzer-beater of their own from Morgan. The trey from Morgan helped give SVC a 34-32 lead at halftime. Sanmartin was a catalyst for the Bearcats' halftime lead, producing a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Neither team could pull away in the second half as lead changes continued to headline the contest. The largest lead throughout the third was a three-point margin held by La Roche in the closing seconds of the third quater before Carroll hit the third buzzer-beater of the night, to lock the game at 51-51 after 30 minutes.

Both sides struggled offensively to open the fourth, as neither team made a shot from the field until the 5:34 mark when Morgan had hit an elbow jumper giving the Bearcats a 55-53 lead. After trailing 59-56, Ellis hit a clutch outside shot to tie it at 59 all with 3:42 remaining in regulation. The Bearcats found themselves down for the majority of the closing minutes before a hard drive from Ellis led to a kickout for another outside shot from Carroll giving them a 65-63 lead with 29.7 seconds left. Yet again, La Roche came back with a tough inside bucket to tie the game at 65 and force overtime.

Things were not going the Bearcats way at the start of overtime as Sanmartin fouled out and ended her night early less than a minute into the overtime session.

The Redhawks would build a 69-66 with 3:43 left to play. However, now playing two starters down, the Bearcats showed their resiliency once more. Morgan would spark a seven-point run to bring the Bearcats back into the lead, the last of which was a three-point play the old fashioned way, to make it 73-69 with 1:43 left.

After a made long ball from the visiting team made it a one point game, Carroll answered with her biggest shot of the season, netting her final three points to make it 76-72. From there the Bearcats closed things out at the free throw line. 

All five starters for SVC reached double figures in points. Morgan led with a new career-high 20 while Sanmartin netted 18 points, followed by Weems and Carroll with 13 each. Ellis rounded out the Bearcats double-digit scoring with 10. Sanmartin established a new career-high with 12 boards, while Katie Ryan added 7 off the bench.

La Roche used only six players in the game and had only four players score. TiChina Mitchell led with 29 points on 13 of 27 from the field. Sabrina McLin followed up with a solid showing of 22 points. Danasha Harris posted a double-double, with 13 points and a team-best 11 rebounds.

The victory improves the Bearcats to 5-4 overall as they remain 2-1 in the PAC. La Roche, previous winners of five straight, drop to 6-3 for the season.

The Bearcats will now prepare for another tough non-conference test, hosting Baldwin Wallace University on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m. The Yellow Jackets enter the matchup with a perfect 8-0 record overall.